Friday, August 31, 2007

Link fixed

I think the link for the RSS feed is now fixed.

If anyone cares.

"Moral Values" hypocrisy

Glenn Greenwald shows once again that when he's on point, he nails it.

The issue is not that these Traditional Marriage proponents sometimes stray from their own standards. People are imperfect and will inevitably do so. The point is that they apply these supposed "principles" only when it is expedient to do so, only in ways that are politically comfortable, thus revealing the complete inauthenticity of their alleged convictions.

It is hard to remember an incident that more powerfully reveals the true, deeply unprincipled face of the "Traditional Marriage" movement than the completely disparate treatment from the GOP leadership for David Vitter and Larry Craig. As the likes of Mitch McConnell and (the divorced and adulterous) John McCain oh-so-nobly demand Craig's resignation while continuing to embrace David Vitter, the last thing we ought to be hearing is how this demonstrates newfound moral rectitude from the Republican Party. Whatever is driving the party leaders as they keep David Vitter and push out Larry Craig -- and similarly condemn same-sex marriages while saying nothing about (and often engaging in) divorces and multiple marriages -- devotion to "traditional moral values" is not it.

Tell me another one.

So the US military can't guarantee operational security on a mission to get some civilian (U.S.) lawmakers out of Baghdad without their plane being fired on.

Tell me again how well the surge is working. I keep forgetting.

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome inspector?

Once again, the U.N. team fails to stick to the script, and reports that Iran is taking some steps to cut back on the nuclear program, and at any rate aren't close to coming up with weapons. Naturally, the "we should nuke Iran before they nuke us" crowd is up in arms, because this doesn't fit the narrative.

Given the accuracy of the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, compared to the accuracy of the claims that led us into the war, I know who I'm likely to give the benefit of the doubt to.

Because if we're caught breaking the law, the terrorists win.

And the damage to the presidency continues... This time the minions of President Doofus are arguing that they shouldn't have to reveal details of how a Belgian bank provided the US info on various banking transactions, possibly (probably) in violation of the law. Why shouldn't they release information on whether or not they broke the law? Because...wait for it... it's a state secret.

The problem, of course, is that this looks awfully convenient, that the motivation is more of the regime's Administration's desire for secrecy for its own sake. So it's going to be that much harder for the next President to make any such argument. For that matter, it's going to be harder for the regime Administration to keep making that point if they keep overusing the "it's secret because we say it is, and you don't need to know why" defense:

Historically, courts have been reluctant to challenge the secrecy privilege. But the administration has suffered setbacks in seeking to use the secrecy claim in the eavesdropping case and several other recent cases.

“We’ve seen a real erosion of the ‘state secrets’ privilege in the last year,” said Mr. Schwarz, the lawyer suing Swift. “I think it is from overuse. We’ve seen it used in record numbers, in situations where it was inappropriate, and the courts are starting to recognize that.”

Thursday, August 30, 2007

So it's not just us

Great Britain's wind-power scheme seems to be turning into a bit of a boondoggle. Plants built where the wind isn't, where development pressure is high (but winds aren't), and with a power system that isn't prepared to deal with the variability of the electricity generated.

Of course, it's not a simple problem. The power grid wasn't designed for generators that go on and off all day long. There isn't a convenient way to store the electricity generated, and adding a system (some sort of flywheel comes to mind) adds to the cost and complexity, and therefore makes it less viable.

But at least they're doing something. Unlike the US, where the generally accepted solution seems to be more subsidies for oil companies that are already making record profits.

Hilzoy to Democrats: Grow A Spine!

Tell it, sister:

[T]his is not about "distaste". Our objections to allowing the administration to listen in on us without warrants is not aesthetic. It concerns some of the most fundamental principles in our Constitution, and the freedoms we take for granted as Americans. Distaste has nothing to do with it.
The full post really is worth reading. I'm continually baffled why the Democrats act as if it's still 1996 and they've just been repudiated at the polls. These are fundamental principles, and no one seems to care that they're being shredded. The Democrats seem terrified that if they don't give the regime Administration everything it wants, they'll be called names or something. Not realizing, apparently, that the people who voted them into office in large numbers in 2006 want them to do something, and want them to stand up for principle.

It shouldn't need to be said, but apparently it does: Hey, people...we've got your back. Now go do what we sent you there to do. The sooner the better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Different treatment?

Pam Spaulding has a post up on the continuing implosion of Sen. Craig, and multiple calls from Republicans for him to resign. She notes:

You have to wonder what Craig is thinking right now as all these fundies and Republicans turn on him. He certainly has to notice that Diaper David Vitter didn't experience calls from folks on the Hill to vacate. Could it be about that whole GAY thing, Larry?
As I note in a comment on that thread, I don't think it's "the gay thing." At least, not entirely. It's mostly about the power thing. There's a reason Mitt Romney can call "I am not gay" Craig 'disgusting' while expressing sympathy and support for "Diapers" Vitter, and it's not just because of the gay thing.

The governor of Idaho is a Republican. So if Craig steps down, a Republican will be appointed to replace him. So there's going to be a Republican in that seat until the next election, whether or not it's Craig.

But the governor of Louisiana is a Democrat. So if Vitter steps down, it means the GOP will almost certainly lose a seat in the Senate.

Therefore, Craig is expendable in a way Vitter is not.

Yes, they're piling on, making every cheap point they can, and are obviously playing to the homophobe wing of the party. But if Craig's seat [no pun intended] weren't securely Republican, we'd undoubtedly be hearing plenty about compassion, avoiding a rush to judgement, and so on.

Also, there's a good post over at Sullivan's that's worth reading. And there was another post, somewhere else, that I've just spent 20 minutes trying to find again so I can give credit where it's due. And I can't. Point being:

There are many pressures putting someone into the closet, and many keeping someone there. There are many privileges that go with it, privileges that are foregone when one comes out; indeed, one can lose one's support system, seemingly one's entire life.

But that does not make it necessary to build a career on trying to turn gays into second-class citizens, as Craig seems to have done.

But ultimately, it's a question of maturity. Of facing facts, about oneself and about the world. And facing facts with integrity is sometimes difficult, sometimes scary, and sometimes carries a price. But it has to be done. Someone who isn't willing to face basic facts, but is willing to tell the thousand lies a day a closeted life demands, at some point calls their own integrity into question. And is not fit to lead.

Update: Found the link. Scroll down a bit, it's in one of the quote boxes. The original blogger is Glenden Brown.

"Disconnected from the overall strategy"

Hundreds of Iraqis who have put their lives on the line working for America are unable to get visas to leave... In part because they can't apply in Iraq, but have to go to Syria or Lebanon first, then wait several months for processing.

But some American officers have made a point of trying to help Iraqis who worked for them. Lt. Col. Steven Miska, an infantry officer in Western Baghdad with the Dagger Brigade Combat Team, knows exactly how many interpreters his unit employs, and offers housing on his base to every Iraqi who works there. On Memorial Day, he paid tribute to two Iraqis — an interpreter and a shop owner on the base — along with fallen Americans.

“Right now, the immigration policy is disconnected from the overall strategy to win,” said Colonel Miska, adding, “It’s not just U.S. soldiers who are sacrificing.”

Policy disconnects... lack of planning... is anyone surprised? Hilzoy has a good essay up on why these sorts of mistakes are the sort made by people who fundamentally just don't care.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Larry Craig

Once again, Mark Kleiman misses the point, mostly, while Hilzoy nails it.

The issue isn't just that a "family values" politician is cruising for sex in airport restrooms. It's that he's built a career on limiting rights for gays and lesbians, making sure they had no opportunity to enjoy the privileges he enjoys as a (supposedly) straight man, while also hiding the inconvenient little fact of his own behavior.

And as Hilzoy points out, the self-loathing behind that kind of behavior has got to be unpleasant. But that's an explanation, not an excuse. That is, it explains how it happens; it doesn't condone it or make the hypocrisy any less rank.

Kleiman's right to call out the press on their lack of interest in the abuse of power, though. I'm not sure it's grounds for expulsion, but some kind of sanction definitely seems to be in order. But Kleiman's distinction between this case and the Vitter case, because "policy toward prostitution is still a live issue" (and apparently gay equality isn't), is galling, and borders on mind-bogglingly oblivious.

Missing the point, again

A discussion of digital restrictions management (DRM) on the BBC website quotes the usual sources, and gets the usual party line. That music was released on CD's, without DRM, so people expect it to be available. Video, on the other hand, hasn't been released in a non-crippled protected form and so it's perfectly okay to keep doing that, or so says the industry spokesdrone:

"There isn't a contradiction of approach between the physical and digital products... Video content and DVD has always been very protected - people do not expect to copy DVDs easily."

[sigh] No. Let's take this from the top. Again.

Users have certain rights. They're a matter of law. The fact that the MPAA threatened and bribed hardware manufacturers into selling crippled players that don't protect those rights, does not mean those rights don't apply. Just because the MPAA could do it, and dare anyone to stop them, doesn't mean they were right to do so, or that there's any presumption that they should continue to do so.

But as long as no one complains, they can go right on ignoring the law.

Update from inside the bubble

Bush is angry that his good friend Gonzo was forced to step down:

After months of standing by his top prosecutor and "close friend," Bush spoke briefly in Texas to praise Gonzales, saying the attorney general endured "unfair treatment that has created harmful distraction at the Justice Department."

Bush said it's "sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person" is impeded "from doing important work."

Unless the important work he's referring to is shielding Rove and Bush from the law, lying to Congress, and politicizing prosecutions, none of this has anything to do with reality. But inside the bubble, the problem isn't the rampant lawbreaking, it's the news coverage of that rampant lawbreaking; that's causing the "distraction" that's so harmful to our country.

Blech. The sooner the whole crop is out, the better.

Now on to the important things....

And of course, within an hour, the resignation of the AG in disgrace is pushed off the front of CNN's site, to make room for a far more important story.... Convicted Dogfighter Says He 'Needs To Grow Up.'

Let's keep our priorities straight.

Gonzo's out, Chertoff's in.

So Gonzales has finally faced reality, that his position is no longer tenable. And Chertoff is being floated as his replacement.

That ought to please everybody. He's got more legal experience at the federal level than Gonzo had, and appears to be one of the few executive branch officials who wasn't involved with firing federal prosecutors. That'll please the Democrats. And, as we saw in the Katrina response, he's got the right combination of ideology-and-politics-before-all-else and raw incompetence that this Administration demands.

So everyone wins.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Times Finally Catches Up... and doesn't screw up too bad

The "paper of record" finally noticed the tempest-in-a-teapot that blew over last week about a quarter-degree change in the climate records, a correction of a book-keeping error.

Before the change, 1934 and 1998 were statistically tied for warmest year on record, the difference between them well within the range of measurement error.

After the change....1934 and 1998 are statistically tied for warmest year on record, the difference between them well within the range of measurement error.

Not that the various Well-Paid Professional Liars were deterred from bloviating, of course.

I don't know which is more depressing, that it turned into the mini-brouhaha that it did, or that the Times took as long as did to notice anything was going on.

But he'll be OUR sonofabitch...

Allawi is pushing hard to get himself installed as American puppet. I suppose he sees it as a reasonable career move--after all, he's running out of options that don't involve getting honest work--and the "install a compliant strongman" model will no doubt be tempting as the hollowness of the "surge" becomes inescapable. And the "Yes he's a sonofabitch, but he's our sonofabitch" model worked oh so well during the cold war...